Now that the traditional summer is behind us and the kids are back to school, it’s time again to start preparing your family for the flu season. Brenda Braun, MSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, Shore Medical Center’s Clinical Educator for Shore’s Emergency Department, Pediatric Care Center and Maternal Child Health, believes that the best treatment for influenza is vaccination. The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.
According to a press release issued on September 6, 2016 by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is recommended that all children ages 6 months and older receive a seasonal flu shot during the 2016-17 season, as vaccination remains the best available preventive measure against influenza.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the nasal spray vaccine did not protect against certain strains of the flu virus that were most prominent the past three seasons. The nasal spray vaccine effectiveness among children ages 2 through 17 years was 3 percent in 2015-16, compared with 63 percent for the injected vaccine.
"New research shows that the flu shot provided significantly better protection in recent flu seasons compared with the nasal spray vaccine," said Henry H. Bernstein, DO, MHCM, FAAP, who co-authored the statement. "We want to provide children with the best protection possible against flu, and these recent studies show the flu shot is likely to provide a higher level of protection."
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are encouraged to be vaccinated. Women can safely receive the influenza vaccine at any point during pregnancy, and are of special concern because of the high risk of complications from flu. Their vaccination also provides protection for their infants during the first six months of life through a transplacental transfer of antibodies, according to recent research.
Influenza can cause very high fevers, body aches, and coughing and is usually resolves itself without treatment. So, if you or your children contract the flu, what works best for recovery? According to Braun, adequate hydration and rest are very important. Those affected should drink plenty of fluids and avoid strenuous activities. There are anti-viral medications which could shorten the duration of the illness by 2 to 3 days if taken within 24 to 48 hours of the onset of the virus. While you are ill, she advises staying home and resting so that you can recover and prevent others from becoming sick, as these infections are very contagious.
The flu vaccine will be offered no later than October. Immunization early in the flu season is expected to provide protection for the entire season. Because the flu season is unpredictable and outbreaks can occur late in the season, providers are encouraged to continue offering flu vaccine until June 30.
For more information on Shore Medical Center's Maternity and Pediatrics Services, click here.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.